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A hot, sweaty and intensive session - the weather has been particularly warm lately and the church hall was like an oven when we arrived
Only myself and one of our soon-to grade for the first time students turned up for class, so we did some 'polishing' for his upcoming 6th kyu test...
It was very useful for me to run through the basics again, as they are not identical to what I learned before, and I don't want to give anybody in my dojo wrong information!
Sensei trained in a group of 3 with us, and it was hard going for unfit me I had to have a puff of the inhaler as the pollen count is very high and I get hayfever related asthma sometimes when I exercise. However, I kept going, as improving my fitness is one of my goals in Aiki
I was struggling with kotegaeshi omote, as usual... One day it will make sense... I was also messing up on nikyo ura - until I paid attention to Sensei's initial movement and realised that I needed to get uke's balance by drawing their arm out a little rather than trying to skip around their back immediately In the UKA this technique starts like ikkyo ura - in previous styles it was generally applied right away, so more brain-re-training needed
Our other student was screwing shihonage on me pretty tightly, and doing the old 'flushing the chain' to end the technique Sensei corrected this and made sure he was moving forward to throw rather than stepping back. My ukemi w
Tonight we'd reserved for dojo maintainence, as there was a 6 inch tear along the seam of the canvas, and several tatami needed taping up. Afterwards would be a short class if there was time...
The haberdashery in my town's department store recommended a pack of general purpose tough repair needles (hippo spears ) and linen thread to do the canvas repair. The thread was great because it matched the canvas exactly, and apparently is also used to mend shoes
I took my metal sewing thimble, and tried out a few different sizes of hippo spear needle on the canvas to see which one would work best... the thinnest needle began to bend quickly, so I picked the next size up which was spear-pointed like a leather needle.
Even so, it was the toughest repair job I have ever done - my blood and sweat went into it, but no tears It took me the full 2 hours, so Sensei took the rest of the class to the end of the hall to do weapons on the sports hall floor as they finished the taping job more quickly!
Fortunately my fingers have mostly healed and my thumb tips no longer feel like they've gone 10 rounds with a meat tenderizer... My back feels better too after running around helping out at my archery club's open tournament all weekend - sitting hunched on the floor isn't good, but with a canvas that size there was no other option
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, but the true test will be next Friday when we unfold the canvas and tension it
Today's class was one of those classes where everyone just had so much FUN
Afterwards Sensei commented that there was great spirit in the class
We did a variety of techniques, some basic, some complex, including a variation of the 'goose-neck' immobilisation used by the police which I can never figure out - fortunately I was working with our youngest (and brightest) student who figured it out from working it backwards We have to be careful with him as he's only 12 years old so joint locks are not applied!
I have noticed that I'm shaping up better these days - moving my body around is good for it - so although I'm still about 12lbs overweight it's not hanging off me so much It would be good to start doing both classes per week, but with an imminent house-move and a lot of work commitments it's not fair or practical right now Perhaps in the autumn after the move when I'll be living closer to the dojo...
One thing I particularly like about Sensei's teaching is that after he has demonstrated a technique several times on uke, he then asks uke to demonstrate the same technique on him This means that he can show the correct ukemi, the various options for breakfalls, and also check that his teaching was clear enough that uke can replicate the technique..
I also learned that juniors should train at the end of the mat so there is less chance somebody can fall on them during class - as I've not done the Coachi
Attended another basics class, as I can't make Friday class due to work
This time we had a completely new student on the mat, for his first ever class, and Sensei ran through a LOT of techniques!! I hope the poor guy wasn't thinking he ought to remember any of them by the end
The new guy was very keen and very flexible, so applying shihonage to him was a bit of a nightmare - he kept twisting out of the technique instead of flowing with it Sensei explained that he had to go with the flow, as we wouldn't be applying techniques hard and fast to him until he has learned to take the ukemi As it was, he was suffering from the usual tangle of legs and lack of co-ordination in lowering his body to the ground, so we were taking it easy on him! Towards the end of class I cranked a shihonage on him with a little more power and heard / felt his shoulder crunch whoops! but he didn't twist out of that one He said he was ok, and that was probably what he needed to help him understand where he was supposed to move to
I got to train with our 2nd kyu student for one technique, ai-hanmi nikyo. This is a fun one, because a few years ago I learned how to apply this one in the context of controlling uke's centre, rather than relying on the pain response Asked uke to resist with full power, and after a bit of a struggle, was able to do it, keeping the wrist fairly close to my centre, staying relaxed, and aiming my power through his arm
The UK is currently experiencing a heatwave, and Sensei is amazed that so many of us have shown up at class
Fortunately we work on joint locks tonight instead of projections, Sensei making the point that taisabaki is the driver and the technique application can be varied easily
One of our ungraded students earned the nickname 'Crusher' from me, after several vice-like crushings to my thumb joints and fingers during the course of ikkyo application. His enthusiasm is commendable, but I pointed out (and physically demonstrated) to him the difference between control and crushing with strength. He hadn't quite grasped that using all of his muscle strength is not the way in Aiki. I will attempt to convince him that he will live to fight longer if he learns to apply techniques in a more relaxed way, using the strength of his centre, and kokyu to power techniques
Later, during the discussion in the pub, Sensei and I answered a question from this student about the relative ability of graded students to 'take' throws.. He was under the impression that anybody wearing a black belt was fair game and could take whatever was thrown at them I immediately used myself as an example of why this assumption could not be made, and also another yudansha who sufferes severe knee problems. Sensei said that communication is the key - you ask if you're not sure what the other student can do and he doesn't volunteer that information This also